3 Reasons to Buy this Book:
- It’s an inspirational book you can read in one sitting!
- Cool, fun book design and illustrations
- Great book to put on your coffee table for guests to browse
1 Reason Not to Buy this Book:
- No scientifically-validated methods for creativity found here—-principles are based purely on author’s work as an artist
Austin Kleon wrote Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative based upon his decade of experience as an artist living in Austin, Texas. However, he is primarily a writer who has also assembled pieces of poetry he made by redacting words from newspapers with a black permanent marker. That book is called Newspaper Blackout (2010). The book I’m covering today, Steal Like An Artist, was written by Austin to help anyone that wants to add some creativity into their work and personal lives. This is absolutely meant for us—entrepreneurs who want to know how to generate ideas for business.
What You’ll Learn
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. ~ T.S. Eliot
Austin Kleon gives you 10 transformative principles that worked for him to bring out his creativity to create the life he wanted. Here are those ten principles, which you can also see in the table of contents on Amazon:
- Steal like an artist.
- Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
- Write the book you want to read.
- Use your hands.
- Side projects and hobbies are important.
- The secret: do good work and share it with people.
- Geography is no longer our master.
- Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
- Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
- Creativity is subtraction.
The major takeaway I got from the book is that NOTHING is original. You simply need to figure out what is worth stealing, in terms of ideas and thinking, steal it, and move on to the next thing to steal. Kleon says “everything is up for grabs”! Your job is simply to collect all ideas you find worthy of stealing. You are not a physical specimen of complete originality, you are a mashup of those that came before you. Likewise, a product created today is not completely original, but rather, a mashup of ideas that came before it.
Another important piece of advice from Kleon is to create a swipe file—a file to track all the ideas and thoughts you’ve swiped from others. Keep these ideas and thoughts in this file to browse at later times and reanimate these when generating business ideas.
If the thought of stealing scares you, be sure to check out Kleon’s diagram of “Good Theft vs Bad Theft”.
Two other important concepts in the book revolve around your environment and constraints. Kleon gives some excellent tips you’ve never heard before, for creating an environment conducive to creativity. He has recommendations for adding more physical work next to your digital work, to get back in touch with your hands for creating. Also, Kleon has great advice on how setting constraints for yourself will increase your creative ideas.
The author’s goal in writing this book was to be “an inspiring guide to creativity in the digital age”. Kleon wanted to “help readers discover their artistic side and build a more creative life”. I believe Kleon has fulfilled his promise through this edition. If you try out even a few of his tips you’ll build a more creative life than the one you’ve had.
The one flaw with the book is that the advice is not connected to any scientifically proven methods for driving creativity. We are exposed to only the author’s experience.
After reading this book, I implemented Kleon’s advice to create a swipe file. I use Evernote, a free desktop app that allows me to collect and store all the ideas and thoughts I’ve swiped from online. Below is a snapshot of the app I use for my swipe file. Evernote allows me to quickly copy any webpage/idea/media etc and store it as a note in the folders below to view later. Evernote also allows you to search the words contained in the media you’ve stored, so you can easily recall a specific note.
As an entrepreneur, you can benefit from this book by realizing that you don’t need to know how to generate business ideas that are completely original. You’ll be relieved to know that you simply need to start collecting ideas from others and mash these up to generate business ideas worth pursuing. No idea is original—-not even for artists. Immature entrepreneurs imitate; mature entrepreneurs steal.
Click here to check out Steal Like An Artist on Amazon.com
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